If you’re interested in some of what’s out there in terms of virtual representations of complex environments (more than a single building) and the kinds of things that might be possible, why not take a look at Andrew Hudson-Smith’s PhD thesis? The enterprising archaeologist will surely see the possibilities…
Chapter 5, opening of which is quoted below, is enormously helpful for understanding how it is we got from panoramics, to VRML, to Second Life.
Digitally Distributed Urban Environments:
The Prospects for Online Planning.
This section explores a range of methods to model existing urban
scenes. The modelling of such scenes as a portrayal of the existing
environment is crucial to view any proposed development in context.
It is however the modelling of the existing environment which poses
the most difficulty… It is much more difficult to
build a three-dimensional model of an existing environment than a
new development. With this in mind, methods are examined based on
four levels of detail and abstraction, namely panoramic visualisation,
prismatic primitive, prismatic with roof detail, and full architectural
rendering. Firstly we will examine panoramic visualisation…